Centralised vs Decentralised  

Posted by Big Gav

Public Opinion notes that the Financial Review's pro-nuclear campaign is continuing - and that they continue to ignore the idea that we are better off working towards a decentralised grid powered by renewables wherever possible.

As the price of oil continues to rise (now nearing $US 60-per-barrel) I noticed an item in the Australian Financial Review reporting that Dennis Jensen, a West Australian MP and former CSIRO, scientist, is driving a campaign to address the culture of fear surrounding the debate on nuclear energy.

Jensen does not consider the possibilities of a decentralized power grid. He just thinks big centralized power is the way to go. But why should Eyre Peninsula draw its power needs via old transmission lines from a nuclear power plant in Sydney, when it can draw enough power from wind and solar and even export power back to the main grid.

Continuing on the nuclear power in Australia topic, ABC Radio National did some interesting interviews last weekend on a show called "Nuclear power and climate change* that examine the issue of whether we can significanlty reduce greenhouses gas emissions by replacing coal with uranium. This is a good example of an interviewer searching for the truth of the matter rather than "over-balancing".
Terry Lane: See I would think that the real objection to nuclear power in Australia is that it simply doesn’t make economic sense. We have readily accessible coal, we’re told that we can go on burning for the next 200 to 300 years, and so in those circumstances it makes a lot more sense to spend money on developing new generation coal-fired plants where the CO2 can be collected and sequestered, than it does to go nuclear. Nuclear just doesn’t seem to add up when it comes to figuring out the costs.

Terry Kreig: Well I don’t agree Terry. There’s no doubt we’ve got plenty of coal and gas for that matter, to last us for years. I question Alan’s points of the life of the uranium deposits around the world. My reading and understanding of uranium is that using fast breeder reactors, we’ve in fact got the world over about 4,000 years of uranium supplies, and most of that happens to be in Australia.

Terry Lane: Yes, but to be realistic and I know that there’ll be correspondence on this, there is at the moment no operating fast breeder reactor in the world.

Terry Kreig: Well there’s pebble bed reactors which are being used, and there’s also the vast boiling water, or pressurised reactors. They seem to be the new reactors that are in vogue.

Terry Lane: I don’t think anybody wants to live next door to a fast breeder reactor which is cooled with liquid sodium.

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